Friday, August 23, 2019


Today’s book, Chances Are, is a new novel by Richard Russo, published July 2019. The author distinguished himself in 2001, with Empire Falls, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Russo has the unique ability to capture and describe the relationships between and among men of various classes, ages, and backgrounds.

For this story, he selected three young men, Lincoln, Teddy, and Mickey who meet at an elite college in Connecticut during the Vietnam War. They have been awarded working scholarships to labor in the kitchen of a sorority house for the next four years. The other significant character is Jacy Calloway, a beautiful, wildish girl from a wealthy family, also a student at the college who carries a tragic secret. Each of the three men fall in love with her. Following graduation, the three go to Martha’s Vineyard to spend a celebratory weekend in a house owned by Lincoln’s family. Even though Jacy is engaged, she elects to accompany them without her fiancĂ©. On the third day the men awake to find Jacy has departed, never to be seen again, leaving only a note.

The story opens 44 years later when Lincoln, Teddy, and Mickey each now 66, meet for a final weekend on the Vineyard to reflect on the past years and wonder about Jacy’s disappearance. Lincoln, now married with six children, is a successful commercial real state agent in Las Vegas. Teddy is the editor of a religious press in New England, and Mickey, a musician with a small band, still rides a motorcycle. I marvel at Russo's dissection of each of the three men in turn with detailed pathos, humor, and nostalgia as well as their interactions with Jacy.

Although at times the story touches on fantasy, it has some surprising episodes. I found this book to be a genuine page-turner headed for popularity and awards.